St. Lou IS Innovative
Written by Robyn Frankel
Dr. William H. Danforth
“St. Louis has grown to be a world leader in plant science research and entrepreneurship thanks to the foresight and commitment of a team of university, business and scientific research professionals who recognized that what they could achieve together was more than any one of them could do individually.” Dr. William H. Danforth, Founding Chairman of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Chancellor Emeritus, Washington University in St. Louis and Chair of the BioStL Coalition
In response to a suggestion from Dr. William H. Danforth a little over 20 years ago, leaders came together from Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis and University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Illinois-Urbana, the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Civic Progress, Monsanto, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital to use their collective imagination to envision a future that would distinguish St. Louis as a world-class community.
Taking advantage of the region’s educated workforce and unique location were key to their vision. In addition to having more individuals with graduate, professional and bachelor’s degrees than the U.S. average, with a heavy concentration in plant and life sciences, approximately 50 percent of the nation’s agriculture is produced within a 500-mile radius of St. Louis.
As a result, two distinct but collaborative centers of research and innovation have emerged — the Cortex Innovation Community and 39 North. Each is home to a diverse workforce of individuals who share a commitment to ensuring St. Louis’ reputation as a center of innovation and excellence.
The Cortex Innovation Community is a vibrant 200-acre innovation hub and technology district with more than 250 companies integrated into St. Louis’ historic Central West End and Forest Park Southeast residential neighborhoods. Its mission is to bring technology jobs to Saint Louis and to promote inclusion in the innovation community.
39 North, a new 600-acre innovation district located in suburban St. Louis County, is anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, BRDG Park, Monsanto and the Helix Biotech Incubator. As the largest independent plant science research institute in the world, the Danforth Center focuses scientific research at the nexus of food, energy and the environment. BRDG Park serves as a vital resource for homegrown emerging companies as well international companies seeking a US presence. Together with the Helix Biotech Incubator for startups, the district serves as a beacon for attracting entrepreneurs and innovative companies from around the world.
“As in any community, various individuals, institutions, and entities have a wide range of separate and diverse interests, agendas and priorities,” said Dr. Danforth. “But in St. Louis, their collective ability to collaborate, compromise and focus on the future is a hallmark of our region and a major factor in our success.”